SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
This week’s episode was not like last week as there was not much build up to Takeover: Houston. There was a great match between Roderick Strong and Adam Cole that prepared the fans for War Games, but that was about it. The episode felt more like a filler with numerous promos and matches that did not serve a true purpose. Let’s look at the Hits & Misses of this week’s show.
The Velveteen Dream vs. Cezar Bononi: This was a match that was indirectly related to Takeover: Houston as a showcase of the Dream. He appeared very vicious and calculating in this hard-hitting match with numerous blows coming from both sides, but it was the Dream who came out on top with a victory with the Death Valley Bomb. Afterwards, the Dream had some words for his opponent at Takeover: Houston, Aleister Black. He once again promised to make Black “say his name,” setting up for this showdown that is sure to not disappoint.
Roderick Strong vs. Adam Cole (Main Event): This was absolutely a great match. It served its purpose as a buildup to War Games while putting on a clinic of fine technical wrestling. The pace of the match was outstanding as Adam Cole brought it to a grueling halt to wear down the “Messiah of the Backbreaker.” Not being strangers to each other in the ring and not living up to their matches that they have had in other promotions, it was still outstanding as it was well-paced but showing the animosity between the two. Both delivered outstanding moves on one another, Strong with numerous backbreakers and Cole being devious while delivering some of his signature moves such as a super kick and the Last Shot. The match appeared to be all but over when Strong hit Cole with a backbreaker on the top turnbuckle. While Strong gathered himself to potentially make a pin, the remaining members of the Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) came to the ring to make the save for their leader. This is when it really got good. The Authors of Pain came to ringside to make the save for Strong while Sanity showed up at ringside also to make their presence know. That is when all hell broke loose and every man going at each other in the ring. The fight led to outside of the ring and concluded when Strong superplexed Cole onto the other participants of War Games outside the ring leaving total carnage. The last scene served as a precursor to their match in two weeks only heightening the anticipation.
Heavy Machinery vs. Chris Payne & Sean Maluta: The match did not have much to it except for it to showcase the strength of Heavy Machinery. Besides that, it was full of goofy-ness mainly on the part of the muscular duo. From Otis Dozovic’s channeling of Scotty 2 Hotty with the awful centipede to just the overall shenanigans by the pair just made this match horrible. The only saving grace was that it was short, and fans did not have to endure too much of it. It ended with Heavy Machinery picking up the win with the Compactor, to the delight of the crowd, but not really because of the move, but because the misery was finally over.
Kairi Sane vs. Billie Kay: With all the hype behind Kairi Sane and her winning the Mae Young Classic, one would expect more. Overall, the match was not that exciting as it had relevance since two of the ladies involved (Sane and Peyton Royce) being participants at Takeover: Houston’s Fatal Four-Way match. The match came off kind of amateurish, mainly due to Sane’s perceived inexperience and lackluster moves. It really made her to seem like a novice to the wrestling world, making her appear as the weak link in the four-way match to come. Billie Kay was her usual cunning self as she taunted her opponent, delivering some pretty good moves, especially the Argentine Torture Rack. Sane seemed to pick up some steam with some weak chops and a sliding forearm, setting up for the Insane Elbow (her only real highlight) to pick up the win. It did set up tension with Royce, but in a very slow and disappointing fashion.
NXT’s Promos: If you have had the chance to read some of my other articles, you would know that I am not a fan of the promos that NXT uses throughout the show as they come off highly scripted. It’s about as if the participants are reading from a teleprompter while being uninspired. This might be due to that it is a developmental promotion, but it still needs work. This is evident in this week’s promos beginning with Ember Moon’s interview. She was questioned about her match in the Fatal Four-Way only to be questioned about the comments from Mercedes Martinez last week on how Moon could not win the “big one.” Moon challenged Martinez to a match next week to prove otherwise, but the ball was dropped as it did not have any relation to Takeover: Houston.
Next there was Kassius Ohno making a case on why he should be in the championship picture and requesting a match with Lars Sullivan at Takeover: Houston. This was terrible in many ways, mainly for one; Ohno’s claims are almost laughable as he has not faced many opponents that would catapult him into the championship race. The other point is that he will be served up to Sullivan as a sacrificial stepping stone to the later.
Then we have an interview with Zelina Vega and Andrade “Cien” Almas. This was probably the best promo, but that is not saying much. Vega is a gem in front of the camera, coming off very conniving and ambitious, which only makes Almas look good too. This is to make up for his lack of charisma even though he seems more focused than he has ever been. Another promo that followed was an update interview with Ruby Riot as she discussed her injury from two weeks ago during a three-way match for advancement to the Fatal Four-Way at Takeover: Houston. She spoke of how she did not know how long she was going to be out of competition only to be interrupted by Sonia Deville and blamed for her losing out on her opportunity for the Women’s Championship. The two had an exchange of words only to lead to Riot challenging Deville in two weeks for a match. It really did not have that much hype as both women are not even in the championship picture at this moment.
The last, and possibly the worst of all the promos, was with the Street Profits. Even though they are becoming very popular, the promo was very weak with outdated urban catchphrases and riddled with just downright silliness. It really went over the top when they stole a suit that was supposed to be delivered to Tino Sabbatelli, only to be approached by Sabbatelli and Riddick Moss. The four exchanged words leading to a challenge for a match. Even though the match might be somewhat entertaining, the promo wasn’t to where it mainly just comes off as an afterthought with everything else that is going on.
Overall, it was not a bad week for NXT, but just not as strong as others. With the attention being on Takeover: Houston and the potential of how great it could be, there could have been more of a buildup, but with this being a week before the going home show, one could only expect for next week to be better with a climatic set up for this monstrous event.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S COLUMN: NXT HITS & MISSES 11/1: Build-up to Takeover Houston and War Games, McIntyre vs. Almas NXT Title match contract signing, Gargano